Thursday, May 31, 2007


Socks- I love 'em. These will be b-day socks for my Auntie if I get them done in time. Don't worry sockless mama- we'll get sock yarn when I'm there and you can pick it out and have some for your b-day too. Sock yarn in tangles- how I hate it. When I learn the magic trick of not tangled sock yarn, I will be a virtual sock making machine. Until then they come here and there when I have enough patience to untangle as much as or sometimes more than I knit. (the pictured tangle isn't the worst of it- the really bad one met an ugly end.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Once again, I'm sure I'm revealing my novice-ness but I'm pretty proud of this jewelry case I found at the local thrift shop for $.99. It is the ultimate sock-knitters carrying case. It also serves pretty well to hold various other necessities. And it's not even ugly. I'm feeling pretty thrifty.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

simple square

This is 2/3 of a square. I'm calling it periwinkle. I am happy with this square because it does not feel like it weighs 1000 lbs. It has no future other than maybe some other squares attaching to it and becoming and afghan somewhere in the future. There is no pressure to complete it. My hands on the bamboo needles with this lighter than air handspun no longer have enough torque to start a 10 year old lawnmower. I may branch out and alternate between this square and a simple sock. (I can gaurantee that it won't be the Stansfield #10 sock-remind me why I decided to purl the foot instead of knit it) For now it is time to rest and enjoy some process knitting instead of product. Breathe in, breathe out.

Monday, May 28, 2007

good enough until fall

Behold the Rowan chunky cabled vest. One sleeve has ribbing (with not quite enough stitches and needing to be redone.) The other sleeve remains unfinished. Once there are more stitches around the sleeve, it will be fine. The major concern-a decent fit around the torso- turned out o.k. Once blocked I believe it will only improve. Having grown a little impatient with it, I will call it an FO for now since it's too hot to wear it anyway. It will be the first thing I fix up in October. It's one for the record books in that husband/photographer was heard to say "that's the best thing you've made so far."

I believe him because I know he's a genius. Yesterday in the car he said, "hey honey, you could visit a yarn store everywhere we go and get some yarn that's kind of like a souvenir." I didn't tell him that the concept of souvenir yarn wasn't a new one. Instead I said, "What a GREAT idea!" I might be a novice knitter, but I'm no fool.

lessons learned- swatching can work-rowan chunky not for summer knitting-I can get better at knitting

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Can't knit... must ride bikes.

While these aren't recent photos (we're much skinnier now... oh wait, maybe the opposite) this is where we went today and what we did. I had trouble holding hands while riding bikes so I'm pretty sure I won't be knitting and riding any time soon.

Critter count: 2 groundhogs, 3 squirrels, 1 chipmunk, one black butterfly with blue on it's wings (we think it was Brother Fred) and a slithering snake that Bob almost ran over that was almost as long as the trail was wide! For those who are keeping track, I wasn't nearly as creeped out by a snake as I thought I would be.

Step away from the computer- Must Knit

Many thanks to Leslie and Good Yarn Karma for the Tricoter Simply Sweaters treasure. She even paid for postage! She will have much good karma. It's written by women from Tricoter- a Seattle YS which isn't so local except that's where we'll be in July so I may just get to visit.

All of left side of rowan vest is finished. Right side is more than halfway done. A little stockinette in the back and I'll have an FO. That is, if I can keep myself away from all of the blog-reading there is to do.

In between I've been swatching with some Debbie Bliss silk. Anyone with any wisdom to share re: knitting with silk, I would be grateful. I'm thinking rectangular wrap so that I can fondle the fiber regularly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Final Festival Foto

I didn't get one of these pins either. Toothpicks as knitting needles- quite inventive. Making money selling crafts can't be a walk in the park. I better get to work on the Rowan vest if I want something other than random links in future posts. Give yourself a "Solid" and serious blog obsession points if you found and went to all seven (make that eight) Lincs in this post.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

$6.00 stash busting

I appreciate the cleverness of this stash-busting, money-making craft. I just couldn't see paying $6.00 for yarn remnants that I have around the house with some toothpicks, beads, and baskets added. While very very cute, this salesperson would have done well to charge a little closer to what s/he paid for said craft. The way I'm looking at it, it's about a 600% profit.

Right side of Rowan vest has 5" to report. With everything on a piece of yarn place holder, the size seems to be improved. In fact, (dare I speak it?) it almost seems to fit! I know, I know... the novice can dream. Happy Friday.

Did you let the alpacas out, honey?

When I saw this at the festival I mostly sang in my head, "doo-doo doo, just taking the alpacas for a stroll down High St. Need anything at the Dollar Store, Hermione?" Rowan vest has gone from circulars to straight knitting which is to say that I'm at the armpit and on the home stretch. A few more movie days and I'll be done.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

just in time for summer

This one should be done just in time for hot humid July. Think of it this way- I'm ahead of the fashion industry. Those fall items don't come out until August. This pattern is from the spring/summer 2007 issue of "knit it!!" and is actually modeled and made for a man. I made one ungauged in rowan summer tweed several months back. This one (according to my math) should fit better and not have a 58 inch waist. It feels snug but I'm hoping that some of that will block out and that I will lose just a little more pouch to make it wearable. Like any other knitting fool I will make no attempt to fix what the back of my mind sees as a potential problem and will instead, knit on, hoping for small miracles.

98, 99........100!

This blog started for two reasons. I loved reading Knit and Tonic and I had the first FO that I wanted someone to see. In a matter of no time I've hit the 100th post mark and it has become a restful place to read and write. Thanks to everyone who comments. That's all I've got today!

Monday, May 21, 2007


There are several pictures of kitschy things that I did not buy at the Sheep and Fiber festival. This is a picture of one that I couldn't resist. As a music teacher who often uses puppets, I believe that it will be a tax deduction. We went back on Sunday and saw a "real little lamb." It said "baa-aa-aa" many times. Each time it did that, I laughed and cackled as uncontrollably as humanly possible. Not just the first time- each and every time. When I asked Bob to describe the sound, he suggested that it was a combination of cackle and burst of embarassment. "I wasn't embarassed," I replied. "Embarassing for me," said he. He's from Brooklyn, he had to be cackling inside.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

on the street where I live

In the continuing series of photos from the fiber festival, these were the colors just "hanging out" on the street where I live. (well maybe 1/2 mile away) I have indeed been knitting. I'm swatching the new handspun and have about 14 inches on the Rowan Chunky vest. All will be revealed in good time. Meanwhile, it's "movie day" at school, 12 days left, 11 1/2 hour classes in 6 hours and a partridge in a pear tree.

Angora Anyone?

If I made these pictures as big as I'd really like to, you would be waiting until next year's sheep and fiber fest for them to load. Click on them if you want them bigger. This "little fella" (more like a giant watermelon size) was in the shade, but mostly the blue/lilac color is what he really looked like. I got quite an informative lesson on breeding for color from his owner.

Here's what I learned about giant bunnies. You don't shear them like sheep. In the "old days" (50's and 60's) people who complained of shedding angora sweaters likely had angora that was sheared with things like electric hair clippers. These devices, in spite of their efficiency, leave short little hairs all over the place. Angora that is retrieved using sharp scissors produces longer pieces and therefore, less shedding.

Another report from the intermediate novice sharing my experience as I work my way through the rest of the novice state.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Did you know...

That an alpaca is an animal all unto itself? Well yes, I'm guessing that most of you informed readers knew that it's in the camel family- just below the llama. News to me! I thought maybe it was a type of an animal that I already knew about. (e.g. alpaca sheep, alpaca goats, etc etc.) This beauty named "Hermione" made the festival worthwhile.

Small though it was, how can a person be disappointed when there is a streetful of handspun yarn? duh. There were bags and bags of wool, roving, dyed raw wool, dyed roving (I now know the differences between all of these words) and yet not one spinning wheel to be tried or purchased. If I made spinning wheels, I bet I would make a fortune.

As for the cranky ladies at the spinning wheel, I encountered 2 of them but then there were about 5 others who were more than willing to talk to me about the joys of spinning. Note to self- leave the spinners at the sheep to shawl competition alone. They're on a mission.

I did purchase some yarn- not as much of a silk/wool blend as I would have liked- another lady with her eye on it beat me to the purchase. Her daughter is from Waynesburg and knits and the first thing she said after we met was- "we should have a club." We exchanged emails, thrilled to know that there are at least 3 knitters here. I purchased a big pile of handspun English wool. The pictures won't do it justice so I'll wait until I have some that will or until I start working with it for real.

Just for the record, the exhibitor at the first booth I went to smiled at me and said, "Do you have a dog?" I burst out in uproarious laughter and then had to explain. She gave me some imaginary treats for Nigel. They were free.

Rubber Tree Plant

i had to have just one more chance to be excited before heading "downtown" to check out the "festival." For those not familiar with Waynesburg, odds are that there will be 2-3 sheep, a couple of rabbits, 2 cranky ladies spinning, and some not so LYS's selling overpriced novelty ladder yarn. I fully expect to be disappointed once I get there so I wanted to take this last moment to feel the thrill of a festival In The Town Where I Live that is about Something I Love To Do. Off I go, knitting bag and camera in tow, pre-purchased festival t-shirt on my back, and like the ant about to move the rubber tree plant.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

just in case you're checking

So I guess after revealing those seven plus things, I'm feeling a little empty-headed. And yet I'm always so pleased when my favorite bloggers give me something new to read, I don't want to let anyone down. If I'm a favorite of anyone out there, this one's for you!

The best part of my day today was a comment from Sherri Gabbard on my Mother's Day Project post. She is the step-daughter of Marilyn and found my stitching by googling her step-mother's name. What a gift from karma to me.

One of my favorite things to think about is Dr. Masaru Emoto's work on the Hidden messages of water. Check them out if you don't know it, look again if you want to be amazed again.

Bob and I have an imaginary dog now and it looks like and has the same name as Jen's real dog Nigel-go to May 10 for a great picture. After getting him Bob promptly let him into the bedroom and on the bed. I heard an advertisement for invisible fencing for dogs this morning. This evening there was a commercial on tv for "HomeAgain" to keep track of your pets. I'm wondering if we need this for Nigel. I know this dog stuff is a little sudden and also a little bizarre but it's standardized testing week in my world and the blog isn't the only place I've been enabling. If school were an alcoholic, I'd be it's martyr. To get myself detached from it all, there is Nigel and the great laughing he inspires. On Wednesday a kid asked me how I was going to play fetch with an imaginary dog. (which is one of the reasons I wanted one in the first place.) Before I could answer, another kid said, "With an imaginary ball." Then Leah told me that my imaginary dog bit her and I told her she'd have to talk to my imaginary lawyer.

After a quick google search, I was relieved to find out that I was not the only person with an imaginary dog.

The end of the week is near, the Waynesburg Sheep and Fiber Festival begins on Saturday. There are 14 more teaching days left before summer vacation. All will be well. Just don't mess with my imaginary dog.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

7+ things

Jen and Nigel tagged me so now I feel like a "real" blogger. Thanks Jen!

7+ interesting things about me.

1. I got engaged on the Empire State Building.

2. The same week that I got engaged I sang "5 Fat Turkeys" on David Letterman's "Stump the Band."

3. I spent 6 weeks teaching in South Africa in the summer of 2002

4. While I'm never afraid of getting lost in a new place, I do harbor a small fear of not being able to find a parking space once I get wherever I'm going.

5. I hate talking on the phone but one of my summer college jobs was as an AT&T telephone operator

6. I don't have or want a cell phone.

7. I'm the co-editor of the WV State Music Educator's newsletter.

+ I was never good at being "it" If anyone would like to step up and be tagged, let me know.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I may as well have..

Stitch and row markers- I didn't invent them but I may as well have. Reading and reading about stitch marker this and row marker that thinking what's the big deal? Just a little circle around the needle to mark where you're going and where you've been. Then suddenly, in what I believed to be a stroke of near genius I realized I could hook those crappy stitch markers and use them as row markers to indicate where I was in the cable pattern, eliminating the need for that annoying piece of paper with tally marks that I always lose. NOW I know what the buzz was all about. They aren't pretty but I know where I am. It's a sneak preview of the rowan chunky vest I'm working on.

Bob, feeling a little left out of blogland, has indicated that he would like to have a "complaint of the day." Today he wants to know why he doesn't get a tax rebate for voting, having had to listen to two years worth of campaigning.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Waiting for birds to fall from the sky

I don't really feel compelled to blog every day but it's kind of gotten to be a habit. It's a puzzle for my brain to see if words will "fall from the sky" that I can turn into a post that will crack me up. This evening it happened while sitting on the porch. I don't always love gratuitous cat pictures on a blog but then... Sophie was stalking a bird as we patiently waited for hummingbirds. Bob said, "she wouldn't catch a bird if it fell from the sky." That imagery cracked me up. This first photo is her waiting for said event. The second is the cool aplomb she would walk away with after she missed it. The camera found it's way into Bob's hands. I can't believe how blue his eyes are-or how kind of creepy they look in this self-portrait (I did crop out the nose hairs) I'm all for a catchy caption if anyone can come up with one other than "Big Brother is watching."

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Looks like hummingbirds get "white eye" instead of "red eye." The perfect picture of this may be a summer project. Me and the cats- watching the birds.

Kick in the head

The medical profession calls it "sinusitus." I call it a kick in the head by a horse. In a drugged haze that finally got professional attention yesterday, I envisioned kool-aid dye fiber science projects, Jamaican storytelling (we've been using a Jamaican accent in 4th grade to make things more interesting), and a short story recited by a voodoo priestess entitled "Lyin'-man"

In addition to some yarn experiments based on swatching, there will eventually be hummingbirds and rhododendrons for some beauty to behold. While you're waiting, you HAVE to check out this site from Knitting on Impulse. I'm not kidding. You must click here. On these letters. It is the most amazing image I've ever seen. If it's slow to load, WAIT FOR IT!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Watch me Swatch

So I was looking on-line about the proper etiquette in blog-land for moving from serious political opinions back to more relaxed knitting progress. Having found none, I'll just post and hope that it feels right.

Swatches from left to right- Marousskia from Chat Botte, Jaeger Aran Tweed, and Rowan something something.

I think the Marousskia will be the final attempt at a felted bag. It's so thick that it may not even need felting. It feels like it will stand up on it's own.

I have visions of a light cardigan in the Jaeger. I really liked the "purse stitch" from Vogue knitting (k1 yo K2tog) and envision a seed stitch at the bottom, a purse stitch next up to just below the chest and then I'm not sure. The swatch (though it's hard to see) has the seed stitch after the cables followed by the purse stitch.

The Rowan is looking good for another vest. I'm still fighting with what to do with multiple colors of Rowan 4ply that are fragile and no picnic to knit, but this stuff is like buttah!

I say all of this as if I'm a designer. That cracks me up, but one time I got a passport so that I could be a world traveler. You have to start somewhere.

The two on the right have been blocked and my what a difference. I highly recommend swatching and blocking. It made me like the yarn much better. (just in case it's a little too subtle, the previous two sentences are really pretty joking funny- everyone highly recommends swatching and blocking-only after reaping small benefits of doing a bit of it have I flip-flopped my opinions on it.) You can't believe everything you read, you know.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Marilyn L. Gabbard

My finished stitching for the tote bag- to be mailed tomorrow. Anne, the project originator, suggested that we journal about the experience.

My thoughts and observations follow-

Walking into Wal-Mart at the end of the day to buy thread, needle and hoop to stitch the name of a woman killed in war was surreal. I chose the light green because it felt peaceful to me. I chose the dark green because Marilyn, by all accounts was strong.

The cat joined me as I began stitching, kneading my belly and a play on words immediately came to mind. Marilyn's family "needing" comfort, families everywhere needing comfort, people everywhere needing so much.

I wondered what Marilyn's mama called her when she was a baby. I wondered what the L. stood for. I wondered if she experienced the same pleasant uncertainty that I did when she took the married name of Gabbard.

I stepped briefly into what I imagined her last moments to be.

On the news as I stitched, I watched the president ignore a question about National Guard support while he was in Kansas "comforting" tornado survivors. I pictured Marilyn L. Gabbard taking charge of troops there and offering help to those in need as her obit said she was so inclined to do. I was so angry.

As I came to the end of her name I found myself trying to come to some peace about the end of Marilyn's short life. I wanted my memories to be worthy of her service. I did my best to set aside the anger and frustration I have with all of these losses. There is so much sadness.

In an e-mail, Anne wrote "I understand the feelings of anger and helplessness, and I hope that for the short time you were wielding a sharp needle in protest, you felt connected to the larger group of us who share those feelings."

I hope that every heartfelt stitch of this project finds its way to those who need comfort. I hope that every angry moment sends a message of peace and diplomacy to those who believe that killing human beings is a way to solve problems.

I also thank those who have faced the dangers of serving their country and have returned to face what has to be the surreality of daily life.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Project Mother's Day-War is Personal

I found this site (Mothers Day Project-War is Personal) through the blogs I read.

My "casualty" is Marilyn Gabbard. I don't think there's anything casual about it.

Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard
Hometown: Polk City, Iowa, U.S.

Age: 46 years old

Died: January 20, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Unit: Army National Guard, Joint Forces Headquarters, Iowa Army National Guard, Camp Dodge, Johnston, Iowa

Incident: Killed when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was in crashed in Baghdad.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lil Miss Fancy Swatch

Yea, so when all of my cool knitting friends at school say, "Hey, what are you knitting?" I've just been saying "I'm knitting Lil Miss Fancy Swatch."

Here's why that doesn't really work. No cool knitting friends at school. When they ask anything it's, "Is that knit or crochet? I have some of those sticks at home." And there's no real pattern (yet) called Lil Miss Fancy Swatch. And lately I've been reading more knitting blogs than actually knitting.

Jaeger Aran Tweed- size 5, size 6, size 7 (does anyone else just get a little tired of 7 working almost always? Seven, it's always Seven.) Then some 6 stitch cables, then some seed stitch, then something from vogue knitting (the bible-not the magazine) called a purse stitch. I kind of like it.

It feels productive to learn about the nature of fiber and what textures do to it. Today it's all about process.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How much?

Q: How much yarn does a person need for an overnight trip?

Keep in mind, I wanted this to be a sort of meditative experience. Hotel tv off, just me and the stockinette stitch, making some swatches and emptying my mind. A time to be grateful for the birth of my husband and for the life I have been given. A time to rest and empty my head in preparation for the week to come.

A: Don't let monkeymind pack.

I could blame it on the new bag. "So much yarn, so little time." I could blame it on having a positive outlook. "Maybe I'll roll and swatch some (all) of my stash" Mostly it was indecision. "But what if I feel like..."

As I count there are 13 different skeins (4 of which are already projects on the needles), 5 books, 2 sets of interchangable circular needles, and a kit bag containing the requisite measuring tape, notions and at least 5 sizes of dpns.

Take away the time I spent fondling potential, posing it for a picture, checking on Bob, icing the milk, talking on the phone, coming down with a cold, and pausing for the unbelievability of what takes place on Nanny 911, and there was about an hour of peaceful swatching. Scratch that... it wasn't so peaceful. Have you ever heard a bag of stash? It puts too loud hotel tv's to shame.

"Knit me, no no knit ME- I'll be the project that will make your skills seem more like a craft and less like a gamble. You have the most of me, I'm the best"

I ended up playing with Jaeger aran tweed. There was no real restful mind other than the one that was laughing so hard at the yarn packing monkey.

Today's caption asks "How much?" The answer? "So much."

Also might I suggest to any of the wonderful authors writing help books for novice-intermediate knitters with great hope that they include a section on traveling talking bags of stash?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Husband

-I'm glad you're on the planet. We're going to the gaming center. I say, "take risks and win big." I'll be knitting swatches in the hotel room. We'll both be doing what relaxes us

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good Yarn Karma

So this afternoon was spent being "pretend principal" (others call it "head teacher") or more accurately, "the person to go to when the principal's not there." Yes indeedy- you can always count on a recess fight on a sunny day in May when beckyknitstoo is "in charge." Benson and Stabler would have been so proud of my interrogative technique. And here I thought I was wasting valuable time watching Law and Order reruns. I never realized what horrible liars 5th and 6th graders were.

As I drove home, my brain was full of cause and effect and how glad I'm only "pretend." When I checked the mailbox, there was a box of Maroussia by Chat Botte sent to me by "yarnfloozy" via the wonderful blog Good Yarn Karma It's a deep deep purple slightly boucle-y and possibly a little tired from the journey across the border from Canada. I have no doubt that once revived, it will be the perfect yarn for a second go round at the "V is for Victory" vest from earlier posts. And hey- this time I'll even swatch.

If you have not accidentally found this site- Good Yarn Karma, you don't know what you're missing. Many thanks to the people who had that stroke of brilliance as well as to yarnfloozy who was so quick in sending the karma- especially on a day when I needed it most.

the safe place

I'm really taking some risks here. A new pattern for the leg and the heel is "inside out" because I think I read somewhere it makes for a comfier sock. I thought I had socks memorized until I remembered that I didn't turn the heel and was trying to knit a square flap into a "round" sock. (insert tink here) Even so, it's amazing how quickly socks go when you aren't trying to do something gigantic in between. It takes great thought and consideration before beginning a gigantic project that feels destined to fail before it begins! We'll see what the weekend brings.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Moving on

Lining sort of in- it might help the bag shape but it won't do anything for the stretching strap. Maybe some interfacing later on. It's time to move on. The sock in the picture isn't quite as bright as the flash would make it seem. It's the "stansfield #10" from Sensational Knitted Socks...also not so visible but there nonetheless. When all else fails, return to the sock.